Conservationists want agency to suspend boat riding in Lake Nakuru
Bernard Gitau @benagitau
Wildlife conservationists and environmentalists have staged a campaign to force Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to suspend the first ever boat riding in Lake Nakuru National Park.
Conservationists have accused KWS of failing to do an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study on boating riding to the lake ecosystem.
Last week, Tourism Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Joseph Boinett launched the Boat Safari experience initiated by Cliff Boat Safaris.
“The first ever on Lake Nakuru, and lasting approximately two and a half hours, this unique boating experience adds to the rich menu available for adventure seekers visiting the park,” he said.
But conservationists, led by Joseph Inoti, claims Lake Nakuru is an extremely fragile ecosystem, and is facing simply too many pressures ranging from encroachment, pollution and current flooding.
“Adding boat riding with all the noise, and engine oils will simply scare away the over 70 species of waterfowl/flamingos and cause pollution,” he said.
Inoti added there are no impact studies, no depth ( bathymetric) studies to establish safe routes, no regulations, no coast guards, and no safety operating procedures for riders and operators.
He added the bed of the lake has a very soft layer of silt dipping to more than 1.5 meters.
“I did a Bathmetric Survey of the lake in 1999 and a survey staff, about two kilogrammes heavy, read 3.5 metres deep in some areas while the Ecosounder, which reads at the surface of the silt would read two to 2.3 meters at the same spot, thus very soft silt was a meter or more,” he said.
Jackson Raini, another conservationists, concurred with Inoti, and accused KWS of pursuing short-term financial gains at the expense of potentially damaging ecological impacts and safety of visitors.
“We will launch the #Reject Lake Nakuru Boat Rides” campaign if the business boats are not withdrawn. Only research and KWS patrol boats should be allowed in Lake Nakuru waters...as has always been the case,” he said.
But speaking to People Daily yesterday, KWS Director General John Waweru, refuted claims that the initiative was done without EIA.
“We have an EIA team within KWS and National Environment Management Authority. So this initiative did not just happen overnight.
Unfortunately, maybe for lack of information, people will say we did not do it, let them check with Nakuru office,” he said.